Steinitz Opposes Netanyahu: Don't Suspend Drought Tax

Despite Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's decision to abolish the so-called drought tax from January 2010, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz is opposed to any such idea.

"I don't think that suspending the drought tax is the right thing to do. There is no room here for populist considerations," Steinitz told the Knesset Finance Committee yesterday morning.

The finance minister emphasized that he is not enthusiastic about the private initiative bill to suspend the tax that has been drawn up by the Finance Committee. "To say that I was enthusiastic about the [amendment] would be an exaggeration, but it does include corrections that should be made, like waiving the requirement for disabled persons to a present medical approval as a condition for easement of the tax."

Steinitz added that the public and the state need to address water economy seriously, and have no choice but to make some difficult decisions.

"My stance is very clear: even though it is painful, and puts a burden on all of Israel's citizens, mainly those who own pools and gardens - it's the right thing to do in this emergency situation. We are in a real state of emergency." he said.

Earlier this week TheMarker revealed that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has decided to suspend the drought tax starting in January 2010, and reduce the water rates hike that was scheduled to come into force at the same time. As things currently stand, water rates will increase by 50%. Netanyahu has instructed his bureaus and the ministries of finance and national infrastructure to reach a consensus on suspension of the drought tax by the time he returns from overseas tomorrow.